On Tuesday, I posted info about how high levels of mucus-degrading bacteria, like Akkermansia, are associated with the development of inflammatory bowel disease. If you’ll remember, in that study rodents were fed different forms of sugar for 7 days and the gut bacteria shifted toward higher levels of Akkermansia, lower levels of Lactobacillus, which in turn exacerbated Crohn’s disease symptoms.
The theme of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of various species of bacteria continues…
So on that note – in contrast, in today’s paper is about how a high relative abundance of Akkermansia has been found to be associated with a lower risk of obesity, according to findings by Chinese researchers using data supplied by the American Gut Project.[i] 10, 534 participants’ data was analyzed: “…decreased gut Akkermansia was associated with an increased risk of obesity, which is independent of age, sex, smoking, alcohol drinking, diet and country…” Amazing that this finding is independent of diet, isn’t it? 18% of the of the people in the cohort had no detectable levels of Akkermansia. Those with a higher relative abundance were more likely to be younger, female, non-smokers and non-vegetarians and strangely, the scientists found that this “anti-obesity” protective effect of Akkermansia decreased with the age of the person. The younger you are, the more the correlation.
This is not the first time an association between Akkermansia and weight has been noted. I’ve actually written about this topic before – here, for example. Last year, a study was published showing that supplementing with live and heat-inactivated (pasteurized) Akkermansia muciniphila (the main species of Akkermansia) led to a measurable trend in reduction of body weight and hip circumference.[ii] (I’ve also written about benefits of pasteurized Akkermansia before – see here.) In this small study, 32 people who were overweight/obese and insulin resistant, were given 10 billion live or pasteurized A. muciniphila for 3 months.“Treatment with live A. muciniphila (dose ~ 108–1010 per day) was shown to reduce the risk of obesity and improve insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and steatosis in both mice and humans.” Those who received the pasteurized form had a slight decrease in body weight, fat mass, and hip circumference, as well as a reduction in liver dysfunction markers and inflammation.
One last interesting tidbit from today’s paper. They also note that Akkermansia may play “…a decisive role in reducing the burden of obesity, via modulation of glucose metabolism and low-grade inflammation.” Prior research has also inversely associated Akkermansia muciniphila with metabolic syndrome: the lower the level of A.muciniphila, the higher the risk of developing pre-diabetes/metabolic syndrome. I’ve written about this topic here.
Why so many posts about this particular species? Many of you have mentioned to me that you are interested in following the research into Akkermansia, as a possible candidate for a “next stage” probiotic. I will continue to monitor the research for you on the topic for you!
[i]Zhou, Q., Zhang, Y., Wang, X. et al. Gut bacteria Akkermansia is associated with reduced risk of obesity: evidence from the American Gut Project. Nutr Metab (Lond) 17, 90 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-020-00516-1
[ii] Depommier, C., Everard, A., Druart, C. et al. Supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila in overweight and obese human volunteers: a proof-of-concept exploratory study. Nat Med 25, 1096–1103 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0495-2